Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Town Planner's Perspective on Resolving the Traffic Mess

Shafat offers his ideas

(Mr. Shafat Ahmed Reshi, 46, was born in Brane, Nishat, Srinagar. He completed his basic schooling from Shaheen Public School, Srinagar, and his advanced schooling from MPML Higher Secondary School, Srinagar. He completed his diploma in civil engineering from the J&K Government Polytechnic, Srinagar, and a planning diploma in Town and Country Planning from the Central Institute of Tecchnology, Chennai. He is employed in the State Roads & Buildings Department in town planning organization. He works on traffic management issues. Highly conscious about preserving Kashmir's environment, Mr. Reshi is a member of the "Tree Talk Campaign" and "Green Kasheer.")


The Kashmir valley has seen unprecedented increase in the number of vehicles within a short span of time. With the result, the traffic mess that we all encounter each day, has become somewhat like a daily experience and a routine causing serious inconvenience to the people from all walks of life. People are stuck in traffic jams and fail to reach to offices, institutions, appointments and even hospitals in time. A way-out is what we all would appreciate at this juncture of time.

The state Chief Minister who, with all due respect to him, knows very little about traffic management and is not a qualified traffic engineer, must not forget that the various limbs of his government concerned with this issue need a little exercise now. The problem arises when the concerned authorities are not held responsible for Traffic management. People including Chief Town Planner, Chief Engineer R&B, Transport Commissioner, Srinagar Municipality, R.T.O and at last Traffic Police wing of J&K Police must buckle up and take up the challenge of sorting this mess on our roads.

Just because we have had very less information drives or campaigning with regard to the nuances of traffic and transportations, people generally tend to take liberty with the rules and regulations set forth by the law and hence add pepper to injury. We have not understood the meaning of Roads, Road Engineering, Traffic Engineering, Road signs and Markings, Traffic Signs and signals, importance of Transportation and value of emergencies and regencies and this, unfortunately, is the main reason of Traffic mess in Kashmir. Secondly the traffic wing of J&K Police (Traffic Department) alone is, quite bizarrely, held responsible for traffic management or the mismanagement while as the other units of the management are simply not included when it comes to blaming. It is infact the lack of coordination among the above mentioned departments which has set the scene for traffic mess in our state. The tremendous increase in the number of vehicles in the urban areas have given rise to numerous added challenges which and hence regulation of traffic and maintenance of transportation routes is to be essentially attended with better co-ordination for smooth traffic regulation with less number of accidents.

A comprehensive traffic management policy is required which will be achieved only after engaging a qualified town planner with a specialization of traffic management or Engineering and not a police man or a bureaucrat. The cops deployed for Traffic Management are not qualified for the job as there is no subject taught regarding Traffic Engineering and its regulation etc. The fact that the cops vested with the duty of traffic management lack necessary training is evident when we see them stopping vehicles for checking essential documents at a crossing or a four-way. they do not know that their action is actually causing serious inconvenience by halting traffic. They could easily do the document checking thing at a specific point keeping in mind that such an action was not hindering traffic.

Bus stops and passenger sheds are being constructed without any proper planning while drivers are not trained to stop their vehicle at Bus Stops. Hence Traffic engineering is required before informing and training the driver community to respect the laws. Hence proper infrastructure is required for better Traffic Management which will be at an approximate cost of a few corers only. There is no need of flyovers at every nook and corner in Srinagar which cost in hundreds of corers. Bus stands are to be renovated otherwise drivers use the main road for the same purpose and cause traffic jams. Take a simple example of Batmaloo and see how you can not differentiate between the bus stand of Batmaloo and the main road, you will find all the buses on the main highway from Fire-station Batmaloo up to RTO office at Totu Ground. Is this the Traffic Management our law makers and their functionaries in administration have achieved so far?

Constructing Flyovers, widening of roads alone will not solve any problem. Huge amount is spent on the purpose but unfortunately without application of proper engineering designs. Different Traffic Surveys, studies and inventories or required for better Traffic Management, such as Number of vehicle and volume of Traffic, inventory on road network available with their capacities, Travel time and delay study, origin-Destination study, parking inventory, Accident data inventory of public Transport, Inventory of good Transport, Trip Generation, Trip Distribution, Trip assignment etc and analysis of all the above inventories and surveys. The proper Goal of Traffic Management can be achieved only by adopting the below mentions schemes or policies.

Organization (Traffic Management Team)
Inventories Surveys and Studies
Forecast, Planning and evaluation
Operation and Implementation
Performance assessment and Review

The Hon’ble Chief Minster must appoint a traffic management team among the above mentioned professions to have short term and long term planning and solutions for a smooth and safe Transport Policy and for better traffic management in the State. There is no such issue or a problem that can’t be handled and solved. It only takes a strong decision to put the right person at the right place. Otherwise things will gone wrong and in Kashur, we have a proverb ‘Kari- Najar Ba Dast Gilkar ’ which sums up the scenario.

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